The 10 Funniest Sketches from The Dana Carvey Show


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Comedian Louis CK appeared on The Tonight Show this week and revealed to host Jimmy Fallon that he actively campaigned to not have Fallon as a cast member of the short-lived sketch program The Dana Carvey Show. Find out why here:

Unless you were one of the lucky few who caught it during its initial post-Home Improvement airing on ABC, chances are you weren’t aware that Dana Carvey ever had a primetime sketch series. Debuting in the spring of 1996 and canceled soon thereafter, the show was comprised of a powerhouse team of future household names and talent virtually unrivaled in the industry. Other than Carvey and CK, the cast and writers included Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Robert Smigel, Dino Stamatopoulos, Jon Glaser, Spike Feresten, Robert Carlock, and Charlie Freakin’ Kaufman! Despite this amazing pedigree, the TV-viewing audiences of 1996 weren’t ready for the show’s sublimely absurd content and surreal characters.

We, however, can look back fondly on The Dana Carvey Show and offer up this list of its 10 best sketches.

10. President Bill Clinton: Mother and Father to the Nation

Unsuspecting families who had just finished watching Tim Allen “Ar! Ar! Ar!” his way through another mishap stayed tuned to the premiere episode of a sketch comedy show starring that funny fellow who does that Church Lady character. What they got, instead, was Carvey as President Clinton cheerfully breastfeeding babies, puppies, and kittens. Tame by today’s standards, primetime audiences in 1996 weren’t ready for such a horrific sight, and the show was doomed to die on the vine. Looking back, however, it’s pretty damn funny.

9. World Leaders and Their Baths

Dana Carvey writer and cast member Robert Smigel welcomed us to his private bathtime as a playful and fun-loving King Hussein of Jordan. Basically doing the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Smigel expounds on the joy of covering himself with bubbles and pretending he is a bubble creature, attacking the many toy army men and tanks that he brings to the tub. His smile and enthusiasm are nothing but infectious.

8. Stupid Pranksters

The Dana Carvey Show was parodying the glut of YouTube pranksters at least a decade before their welcome was way overstayed. As two of the very few recurring characters on the short-lived show, Carvey and Carell play two snickering jokesters who haven’t quite got the whole scam concept down. Despite coming out of each situation short a few bucks or down a couple hours of manual labor, they celebrate in their car after making a hasty getaway.

7. Germans Who Say Nice Things

The stern Teutonic inflection doesn’t easily lend itself to kind words and affirmations. Yet, Carvey and Carell do sound sincere while shrieking pleasantries and dressed in blazers, turtlenecks, and flaxen-haired wigs. Although their tone reminds us of ruthless gestapos and brutal despots, it’s heartwarming to know that it was a pleasure babysitting Kevin.

6. The Cutting Room Floor Remembers If I Only Had an Ass

In one of The Dana Carvey Show‘s more epic-length skits (roughly five minutes), Smigel as a lisping Gene Shalit looks at one of the key figures in The Wizard of Oz who was unfortunately left on the cutting room floor. Carvey plays Dennis Blanchard, a man without an ass, who sings his troubles before a stunned and silent Oz group. Topped off with a throwaway gag of impersonated movie critics, this sketch exemplifies the insanity The Dana Carvey Show writers routinely brought to the table.

5. Waiters Who Are Nauseated by Food

A fantastic performance in just two minutes, Colbert and Carell are restaurant servers struggling to power through the specials of the day without emptying the contents of their stomachs in front of the customer. Between Colbert’s cleansing breaths and Carell’s dry heaves, the chemistry and rhythm the two had was evident even before their killer segments on The Daily Show.

4. Skinheads From Maine

The quaint, down-home charm of America’s northern New Englanders seems to bring a certain rural hospitality to staunch racism and brutal discrimination. Bald-capped and bedecked in flannel, Carvey and Colbert lounge on the porch in their rocking chairs, whittling and spitballing their future suckerpunch and hate-stick targets — in between casual comments on the weather and early lilac blooms.

3. Grandma the Clown

There’s nothing funnier (or more watchable) than seeing a young child filled with existential dread, and this deteriorated and garishly painted senior citizen clown supplies it in spades. As a solemn and humbled group of children watch in horror, Grandma the Clown creaks and groans into each slapstick schtick with a grimace on her lips and a word of advice to hang onto your fleeting youth.

2. Famous First Ladies as Dogs

A surreal display of comedic talent, Heather Morgan does dead-on impressions of the notable women behind our commander-in-chiefs…had they been dogs. The sketch doesn’t overload the concept with extra characters or even dialogue — beyond a few barks and howls. It’s just Morgan in various pantsuits and church hats, fully committing to the canine personas of our first ladies, and it’s phenomenal.

1. Tom Brokaw Anticipates the Death of Gerald Ford

It’s one of the greatest sketches ever aired on Saturday Night Live, but it comes directly from an unaired episode of The Dana Carvey Show. Same concept, same jokes. (It even includes a Carvey cast member — Robert Smigel plays the offscreen news director.) Dana plays Tom Brokaw on the verge of a vacation reporting all the possible deaths that former president Gerald Ford could suffer while he’s gone. Absolutely absurd and conceptually brilliant, it leaves us to wonder if The Dana Carvey Show would’ve lasted longer had this sketch aired in its intended program.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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